Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 
About the book-
Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in 1936, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender, driven by ambition, but also desperate to escape her squalid, overcrowded home and her abusive stepfather. Helen is the quiet one, a mystery to her fellow nurses, avoiding fun, gossip and the limelight. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother, who dominates every aspect of her life. Can a nursing career free Helen at last? The third of our heroines is naughty, rebellious Millie an aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned.
This utterly delightful novel brings a London pre-war hospital vividly to life.

My thoughts-
I immediately got lost in the world of the Nightingale school. From the very first pages, I was hooked. I had a difficult time wanting to put this book down because there are so many characters that I came to care about and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I liked that The Nightingale Girls introduces us to several characters, particularly the three main characters- Dora, Millie and Helen. These girls are all very different. They come from different backgrounds, but end up being roommates at The Nightingale. I enjoyed reading about each girl. They each could have filled up a novel on their own, but I really liked that this book was about several students and not just one girl. It gave the opportunity to see how three different lives in the 1930's could have been. Millie, a lady, wanting to do something on her own, despite the objections of her grandmother, the dowager countess, who would rather Millie get married and provide an heir to her father's estate. Dora, a poor girl who wants to do better for herself and needs the escape from a terrible thing that is happening in her life at home. And then there is Helen, her own mother a nurse and dictator- Helen is never allowed to make decisions on her own. An unlikely friendship is forged among the three and we are able to see how their year of training is going at The Nightingale. Of course no story would be complete without a love story, and this novel is great for those of us that love that point of a plot because there are several romances to follow here. I loved this book and I was sorely disappointed when I had come to the end of it, but the great thing is it is the first book in a series and the other two are already out and available to purchase. I will definitely be reading them both soon...hopefully VERY soon! I will warn some of my more sensitive readers that there are some thematic elements that might be difficult to get through that are a pretty prominent part of the book, but for everyone else I say this was a wonderful book, an easy read and one of my favorite novels in a long while! I would recommend The Nightingale Girls to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, love stories or novels that are part of a series.

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